Author Archives: Ilana Gershon

Ilana Gershon is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University, Bloomington, and is interested in how new media affects highly charged social tasks, such as breaking up or hiring in the United States. She has written about how people use new media to end romantic relationships in her book The Breakup 2.0: Disconnecting over New Media. Her current research addresses how new media affects hiring in the contemporary US workplace.

[Author Interview] Tom Gieryn and “Truth Spots”

Ilana Gershon interviews Tom Gieryn about his new book, Truth Spots: How Places Make People Believe (University of Chicago, 2018). Gieryn is Rudy Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Indiana University. Truth Spots began with a hunch that places matter in under-appreciated ways, and, in particular, with the question: In what ways does place matter for doing science? To understand this, however, one needs to understand the ways places become authoritative sites because they enable interactive orders that are locatable. Laboratories are counterpoised with sites seen as sparking political movements, sites that become the evidence for scientific classifications, sites that connect one to larger religious movements, and sites in which the future is predicted.​ (read more...)

Interview: Corinna Kruse on the Social Life of Forensic Evidence

In The Social Life of Forensic Evidence (UC Press, 2015), Corinna Kruse traces how Swedish forensic scientists remove objects and traces from a crime scene, transforming them into evidence in labs and through interactions with court officials. This is a story of how evidence is made in anticipation of court procedures, and how in the process, different actors deal with the vulnerabilities inherent to this making. Interview by Ilana Gershon. Ilana Gershon: How did you get the idea to study forensic evidence and how it circulates from crime scene to court? Corinna Kruse: It was from a curiosity that grew over several years, first sparked off by a rather off-hand remark from one of my interlocutors in a previous project. Then, I was studying genetic research practices and was intrigued by how painstakingly and carefully the laboratory staff managed uncertainty—uncertainty being inevitable when dealing with biological material. She said if I thought they were being careful, I should see how the people at the Swedish National Laboratory of Forensic Science worked; there, someone was always sitting next to the person doing an analysis to make sure that they didn’t make any mistakes. That image stuck with me and gradually turned into the idea of looking at practices of dealing with the (inevitable) uncertainty in a context where consequences, and in particular the consequences of making mistakes, are immediate and tangible. Of course, mistakes are undesirable in a research laboratory, as well, but mistakes in a forensic laboratory also affect people’s lives as well as trust in the criminal justice system. This applies particularly when, like in Sweden, there is only one forensic laboratory and that laboratory, in addition, is run by the state. From there, it wasn’t far to wanting to look at how the criminal justice system as a whole provided the forensic evidence with legitimacy and credibility throughout its journey from crime scene to courtroom. That brought in turn with it an interest for whether and how forensic evidence is kept from losing its meaning when moving through the criminal justice system’s different epistemic cultures. So, this project has gradually grown away from its seed—but I’m still grateful for that remark. (read more...)